Starbucks planning to open a new store in Berkeley

A coffee shop believed to be Starbucks is applying to occupy the corner space in the new Telegraph Gardens mixed-use apartment building at Telegraph and Ashby. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Update, 03.19.13: Regarding the parking situation in the area, Starbucks is providing four off-street parking spaces inside the building at 3001 Telegraph. As reported in the story below, the city waived a further three that would normally have been required given the size of the space Starbucks is leasing. Avi Nevo, the owner of the building, told Berkeleyside he believes the new building and the coffee shop will create a “vibrant and lively,” pedestrian-focused area within a few months. “I have built eight or nine projects for Berkeley in the past ten years and we always aim to create villages in each one,” he said.

Original story: Starbucks looks set to move into the corner space at 3001 Telegraph Avenue at Ashby, in the newly built Telegraph Gardens mixed-use apartment building, prompting the owner of a nearby independent coffee shop to express concern about the impact a branch of the Seattle-based chain will have on his business.

An administrative use permit was approved on Wednesday for a “coffee shop and retail sales of coffee merchandise.” Although the application does not mention Starbucks, a member of the construction crew working on site said Starbucks was the new tenant.

The project architect, Adam Orozko, whose company Arktegraf has built more than 100 Starbucks in California and Nevada, told Berkeleyside on Tuesday they did not have a client yet. However when asked again today, Orozko said he did know who was going into the space but was unable to say who it was.

“A building permit for tenant improvements has not been filed yet and we do not want to confirm a client until the project has been approved,” he said.

Michael Iida, who owns Mokka at 3075 Telegraph Ave., two blocks south of the proposed new coffee shop, said construction workers at the new building site had told him they were working on specifications for Starbucks. Iida is holding a meeting at the coffee shop on Sunday March 24 at 5:00 p.m. for the local community to talk about the potential arrival of a Starbucks in the neighborhood. A sign on Mokka’s front door says: “Save Mokka!”

Mokka 1

Michael Iida, the owner of coffee shop Mokka, which is two blocks south of the proposed new Starbucks, is holding a meeting on Sunday for neighbors to discuss the potential new tenant. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Iida said he wants to raise awareness of the fact a new coffee shop is coming in. He is most concerned about the potential impact a store like Starbucks would have on parking in the area and the knock-on effect that might have on Mokka.

“We think we can compete with Starbucks,” he said. “But parking spaces should be required [for a new coffee shop].”

The city waived parking requirements for the new tenant at 3001 Telegraph. Telegraph Gardens has 42 off-street parking spaces but they are reserved for residents. In its approval of the coffee shop’s administrative use permit, the city waived three off-street parking spaces saying “the coffee shop would primarily serve residents and workers in the neighborhood who are most likely to walk to the establishment rather than drive.” It continued: “The coffee shop would primarily serve those residing and working within the neighborhood and not a broader city-wide clientele and therefore would not significantly increase the traffic circulation or parking demand in the area.”

The building’s owner, Avi Nevo, and Arktegraf said in their application that they expected the majority of the store’s customers to be non-drivers. Specifically: “UC Berkeley students passing through, bicycles and walking in addition to adjacent businesses.”

Iida said he estimates a Starbucks would be serving 400-500 customers a day compared to Mokka’s average of 200 daily customers.

Iida said he already occasionally hears of business he has lost because of limited parking.

“From time to time a customer will tell us that the previous morning the parking was so bad they kept driving,” he said.

He added: “It’s conceivable we are talking about being put out of business.”

Starbucks currently operates four stores in Berkeley: at 1799 Solano Avenue, 2188 Oxford St. opposite the entrance to UC Berkeley, at 2224 Shattuck Ave., and inside the recently remodeled Safeway at 1444 Shattuck Square. In 1996, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board turned down an application from Starbucks to go into the Elmwood, saying it would not waive quota restrictions. A Starbucks store at 1600 Shattuck at Cedar was closed  in 2008.

Starbucks has come under fire in some communities around the country for forcing the closure of local, independently owned coffee shops. It has also been described as the “arch rival” of Berkeley-born coffee chain Peet’s. The history of the two stores is intertwined as Jerry Baldwin, one of the founders of Starbucks, bought Peet’s Coffee & Tea in 1984 and Alfred Peet retired from the business. The Whole Foods across the street from Telegraph Gardens last summer revamped its coffee offering with a new cart located at the entrance to the grocery store.

Orozko said Arktegraf planned to file a building permit “in the next month or two.” Once they get a permit they will submit drawings, he said. The current build-out work is being done so that any coffee shop could move in, he said. Dark green awnings like those used by Starbucks, were recently erected at the site. Earlier this week, Orozko said the store would not be open until September.

[This story was revised to reflect new information from the city’s planning department about the parking requirements waiver at 3001 Telegraph.]

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  • Ezekiel

    The best comment I ever hear about Starbucks and it’s effect on local coffee shops was from and owner who said, “It’s been great none of us ever thought to charge 4 dollars for a cup of coffee before Starbucks came along.” Positions of scarcity in small business are annoying and self defeating. If you build a unique business customers will support you. Barnes and Nobel and Amazon can’t stop the great Powell’s bookstore for example.

  • wallstreetbulls

    I have a unique idea, let the two coffee shops open and the one with the best most consistent quality coffee and service is the one that will capture the area market. WOW

  • Harry Saddler

    I believe communities should have a choice about what businesses are allowed to operate in them. If the community around Ashby & Telegraph don’t want a Starbucks, then that’s that.

    I don’t want my community and city to be filled with chains. I want local businesses. And I certainly don’t want the former to cause the latter to go out of business.

  • Allen Salkin

    I love how many comments there are. I miss the people’s republic of!

  • BBnet3000

    Or maybe the one owned by a huge out of town entity that can afford to lose money for awhile until the other one is gone.

  • BBnet3000

    If you really wanted to drive less you should have picked a neighborhood that can be well served by transit. That means in between somewhere and somewhere else, not up in the hills.

  • The_Sharkey

    And what if a community and city says they don’t want to be filled with businesses owned by Muslims or African Americans? Anti-corporate discrimination is still discrimination. I’d prefer to allow any businesses that want to set up shop in Berkeley to do so.

  • Dawn

    it’s ridiculous to tell someone that they should move in order to be served by public transit. So, the hill dwellers have no right to buses or parking because they “chose” to live at a higher altitude than you?

  • Mfox327

    Starbucks’ coffee is horrible. I won’t go there simply for that reason. But they certainly have every right to establish a business just like any other company. If people truly don’t like starbucks, then they won’t go there, and the market will correct itself.

  • Chris J

    Well, its a free country…which is rife with political fighting. The growth of local versus chain has had an effect on many communities throughout the US, and I suspect that there is a general preference in large part for ‘local’ rather than chain. That being said, even among local cafes, there is a good deal of competition.

    For a breakfast treat, I can walk or bike to Local 123, Casa Latina, Cafe Tribu, Bartavelle’s, Peet’s on 4th St…and all to one degree or another deliver enough in terms of price, quality, or ambience and convenience. Most often I choose to stay home and brew my own on the stovetop and enjoy one of my own baked breakfast pastries…scones, muffins, popovers.

    I’d open a popup breakfast spot in my own home if it were legal. Hell, there’s an idea–maybe offer FREE coffee and scones one morning a week to my neighbors…they could just drop in, grab a fresh pastry, grab a cup of coffee, and juice for the kids.


  • BBnet3000

    There are places that transit can serve well and places it cant. If you want good transit service (ie: every 10 minutes), it needs to run in a straight line, in a relatively dense area. If you expect good transit service winding through the hills, you had better expect to pay $10 fares.

    We cant change the basic geometry of transit, but we can choose where to live. Presumably, the OP wasnt born in the hills, he made a choice of where to live just like most of us have. The major transit lines run on University, San Pablo, Telegraph, and Shattuck for good reason (with kind of OK lines between downtown and Solano as well). A huge portion of Berkeley is within walking distance of these lines.

    Also: a bus needs riders to be environmentally friendly.

  • Soupdeldia

    It’s simple folks…buy your coffee at this place and at other independent non corporate coffee shops. When you’re with a group, going for coffee…don’t give in to the “here’s a Starbucks, let’s go here.” If you have to, say: “No..I’m goin’ up the street…catch you back at the office”. Just. Say. No.

  • Marob

    Whatever happened to city planning in Berkeley? Agree we don’t need another Starbucks, CVS, Safeway, Walgreens…

  • Dawn

    still a ridiculous argument. If you read what the hill-dweller said, and if you know anything about AC transit at all, you’d know that when a lot of people moved to the hills, there WAS bus service. It is almost non-existent now, especially after 6pm. Are you suggesting that this person should now sell his home (probably at a loss) because YOU don’t think people should use cars? FYI: when I moved to my neighborhood in the flatlands, there was a lot of bus service. Now, not so much. Should I move to Shattuck Avenue, too? Should we all move to Shattuck Avenue? Instead of ragging on people who live where you don’t approve, maybe you could spend your energy trying to get the bus service to improve.

  • zenloop

    I support Starbucks moving into the corner of Telegraph and Ashby as someone who lives in neighborhood. Additionally, I do not think Mokka will go out of business and will continue to support them by having breakfast there (I love their coffee and pastries).

  • zenloop

    I hate the idea of stopping a business permit because another business feels threatened. Mokka will be fine as there are tons of starbucks haters that would rather go to mokka anyways. I don’t want my neighbors to make choices for me because they think they know best. Also, Pete’s went in on college and alcatraz and Cole’s did not go under. Cole’s has faithful customers. Mokka does too.

  • zenloop

    hmmmm. my comment disappeared. As a neighbor I support starbucks and mokka. Competition is a good thing and I suspect people who really hate starbucks will continue to go to mokka. mokka will be fine.

  • BBnet3000

    Its too bad that service got cut, but it got cut first because it cost the most and served the fewest people. I am also well aware that nighttime service on AC transit is very infrequent even on the main lines (and sometimes a bus doesnt come at all and you have to wait for the next one, which is really inexcusable).

    The fact is that AC transit’s resources are limited. If and when they do have more money I would still advocate improving service where it will help the most people first.

    Would you rather spend precious tax dollars providing service for 20 people or 5? (More passengers also provide more fares to support the service)

  • Sandy_Beach

    How do you know he was looking at you? Perhaps he was looking in your direction while thinking about something stinky that had nothing to do with you. the majority of people are thinking about themselves, or themselves in relation to various aspects of life.

  • serkes

    It’s Berkeley … Coffee + Pizza … (Peet-za?)


  • As someone who lives near this intersection, I just want to say emphatically, no, there is not ample parking. There is not ample parking for the hospital. There is not ample parking for Whole Foods. The parking situation here is a mess.

  • Localite

    So, LA guy, right, since you call it “the 12”?

  • Teacher

    Irony is an over-used and often incorrectly used word…as in this post.

  • Economist

    Oh sure, markets always correct themselves, don’t they? Well, maybe not always…

  • guest

    And it’s owned by Nestle.

  • wallstreetbulls

    typical anti capitalist liberal retort, ‘blank is a great concept, but if we make it optional it won’t survive’.

  • guest

    This is ridiculous because there used to be bus lines (65, 67, 8) that served the hills, and they have either been drastically cut or eliminated entirely.

  • guest

    No oner says you can’t discriminate against a corporation.
    Unless you are on the side of “corporations are people too”, which… I guess I wouldn’t be able to have a reasonable discussion with that mentality, because it boggles my mind.
    If I don’t like the ethics of any business or corporation, damn straight I will discriminate! If I do it because they are black or Muslim, that is a different matter.

  • BBnet3000

    “typical anti capitalist liberal”…. huh? Stop for a second and listen to yourself.

  • Charles_Siegel

    There are some cities that have limits on chain stores, and they are legal. They do not violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

    You might want to try changing the federal laws so they illegalize discrimination against chains and big corporations. Or you might just want to wait until the Supreme Court does it, as a follow-up to its Citizens United decision.

  • Charles_Siegel

    What you are saying is true as a general rule, but it doesn’t apply in this case. Here, they are reducing the parking requirement for one Starbucks. If you have to get coffee after 8 pm, you can easily go to another coffee shop.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I don’t see why it is immoral to reduce parking requirements.

    I do think it immoral to advocate for more parking than a use actually requires, generating more automobile use. Automobiles are the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in California.

  • coffeehound2013

    3 cents: Peet’s is German-owned. Starbucks is American owned. Farley’s thrives in the face of Starbucks down the road. Competition is good.

  • Mbfarrel

    You left out dirty denims and free running dogs

  • dmb

    It would be nicer to help small local business set up shop insread. It is hard to compete with large chains and their prices. The community then loses out as small shops can offer wholesome -organic even fair trade- coffee but it is more expensive. Over time large chains take over the markets and the small shops are forced to disapear. Berkeley has wonderful cafe’s, lets keep this trend going. I also wanted to add that this is near alta -bates medical center and patients and hospital staff may not need more sugar loaded drinks right around the corner…